Gotta Go In Italy—Look for the Porcelain Hole in the Ground?

November 13, 2015: Both male and female travelers in Italy – don’t expect to find the usual porcelain throne in all Italian restaurant bathrooms – quite the contrary. This photo showing the ground level top of the “facility” is found in one of the nicer restaurants in Milan with less room than an airline coach bathroom – and not much turn around space so go in the direction you need. Makes use of the “mile high club” facility look estate like!

Italian Toilet

What Happens When My Sidewalk Disappears into the Road?

November 11, 2015: Not unusual in Italy—especially when visiting smaller towns—to have the sidewalk just disappear into the road. Or stop completely. And you find yourself walking into a busy street along with cars, trucks and a bus or two. Or needing to move farther into the street as other walkers come your way. And if you think the already crazy Italian drivers slow down for you—you’d be very wrong. Italy is one country where jay walking might be safer?


TID BITS – This and That From and About Travel

– Here’s a rumor worth paying attention too — two high profile loser airlines – ever unpopular Spirt Air and “barely hanging in” Frontier are talking about a merger? And, add to this, both carriers have announced that for the upcoming holiday season they will be increasing their fees for any carry on bags!! Two bad service airlines coming together do not in anyway become a good service air carrier! Flyers beware!!

– United, an airline that should be working to improve customer services, is talking about charging a fee for gate check bags – the ones they run out of space for – instead of more closely monitoring the growing number and expanding size of carry on!

Look for TSA Pre-check – you know that special supposed-to-be-shorter airport security lane for frequent travelers – to be in for some revisions that hopefully add some requirements for users. As it is now, seems more and more crowded each week!

And this month starts the heavy holiday travel stampede – fewer flights, planes even more crowded, customer service also on holiday – and even longer lines at airports. Pack a lunch and patience!


Frozen Fun in the Air?

November 2, 2015: Thumbs “up” to the folks at WestJet – Canada’s low cost Southwest style mass market carrier for their imagination to cut a deal with Disney and paint a couple of their 737 jets in the in the popular Frozen-themed livery. WestJet serves the Southern California market so why not have a little fun—and knowing how Disney operates these days, I am sure it was a very profitable partnership for them.

U.S. Airlines – Better Listen to Jennifer Aniston?

October 28, 2015: This new TV spot by the UAE’s Emirates Airlines, using well-known celebrity, Jennifer Aniston, is pretty much “spot” on. Within the next couple of years, three already big Middle East Airlines – Emirates, Etihad Airways (UAE based) and Qatar Airways will be the largest carriers in the world – number of planes, passengers carried and destinations served. Prestige more than profits is a better philosophy from these carriers from oil and gas rich countries – and with ground services and staff like other carriers used to have.

October 26, 2015: The reclining seat issue is not going away—especially with most carriers installing smaller seats (while travelers bodies expand) to jam more uncomfortable travelers onto planes. Here’s a prediction from your Travel Curmudgeon—in the not too distant future one of the low cost carriers – like Frontier who is barely hanging on and Spirit who charges for just about everything they can already – are going to start charging for a reclining seat! Now that might actually cause a public and government outcry to rein in some of these “incremental travel fees” that add costs to tickets and are worth “millions” of easy dollars to airline profits! Seems to me that it’s time for airline travelers to “take back” some comfort, don’t you think?

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A Visit Up Lake Como to Dongo

October 18, 2015: Up Lake Como on the west side is a small, mostly unheard of, little Lake side town of Dongo and a very interesting museum. Well, if you study the history of WWII you would know that Dongo is where the Italian resistance fighters found, captured and executed “Duce” — Mussolini. It was nearly the end of the war and Duce was — with the help of the German Army — fleeing Italy to travel through Switzerland to safety in Germany. The Italians had been alerted that special group of high ranking pro-Nazi Italian military were fleeing the country — the convoy was stopped and searched, and only by accident, did an observant freedom fighter see a frightened soldier in the back of one of the trucks — wearing military “official” pin striped pants. Mussolini was executed and then hung upside down in the town square. The small museum — one of the best the Curmudgeon has visited — tells the story of the end of the war and the capture through s series of displays, interviews with some of those present, and series of outstanding multimedia presentations. Bravissimo!!


October 14, 2015: The town of Lake Como is more like a small city with lakeside vistas and small narrow ally streets full of European and over-logo dressed Asians—stores a mini version of Milan with all the latest fashions and prices. The city is full of history and charming walkway cafes – like the Ariston Bar (restaurant, wine bar and cafe). The best feature of this long operated family establishment is “papa,” also the chef, who energetically (that would be Italian loud) shouts orders to family staff from in and out of the kitchen. I tried to get him to open the 1953 Bacolo but at 1500 Euros a bottle no luck. Como is at the far south end of the Lake and easy to reach to by car, bus or train—also more expensive than most other lakeside towns here.

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